15 Most Endangered Animals in Africa

You can find some of the world’s most endangered animals in Africa.

It’s a continent that is home to over 1,100 different species of mammals and over 2,600 species of birds. Few other places on earth offer such unique opportunities to see such a diverse spectrum of wildlife and often in close proximity.

Sadly, many of these precious animals in Africa are becoming endangered due to human induced threats, such as poaching, habitat loss and climate change.

Also read: Rarest animals in the world

I think it’s extremely important that we learn about all the endangered animals in Africa, and what we can do to help them.

Before we begin I’d like to take a quick moment to introduce you to a Pulitzer prize winning book called The Sixth Extinction.

The Sixth Extinction

The book compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

While introducing us to a dozen endangered animal species, some sadly already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamanian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino.


15 Endangered Animals in Africa

African Wild Dog

How many left: 1400 – 5000

Endangered Animals in Africa

The African wild dog is the second most endangered canid in Africa after the Ethiopian wolf. It is furthermore the most endangered carnivore in South Africa.

These beautiful dogs display rather unique characteristics in that they form incredibly strong bonds with one another.

When it comes to hunting these African canids have an incredibly high success rate, which sits at 80%. For comparison the lion has a measly 30% success rate.

  • Weight: Males  32.7 kilograms (72 lb) | Females 24.5 kg (54 lb)
  • Diet: Greater kudu, Thomson’s gazelle, impala, bushbuck and blue wildebeest.
  • Geographical location: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
  • Why are these anaimls endangered: Habitat fragmentation, conflict with human activities and infectious disease.
  • View this African animal on IUCN

What can I do to help the African wild dog species?

  • You can support an organization called AWF, they educate community members on protecting their local wildlife and equip them to do so.

Cape Vulture

How many left: Around 9400

These majestic birds usually breed on cliff faces high up in the mountains. They use this vantage point to find carcasses which they sometimes fly long distances to find.

These vultures are able to soar amongst the thermals beautifully but are not good at flying on their own, they are just too heavy.

Believe it or not they are also very hygenic birds, often gathering around waterholes to groom and bathe themselves.

  • Weight: 8.2 kilograms (18 pounds)
  • Diet: Carrion (dead carcasses) – usually large animals.
  • Geographical location: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • Why are these animals endangered: Electrocution or collision with electricity cables, loss of foraging and habitat. Unsustainable harvesting for traditional uses are thought to be the most important factors. 
  • View this African animal on IUCN

What can I do to help the Cape Vulture?


Roloway Monkey

How many left: 300 in the wild

endangered animals in africa

The Roloway monkey is one of the most endangered animals in Africa.

These monkeys are diurnal which means they are active during the day time. Highly social gathering in groups of up to 22 individuals.

Groups are led by the alpha male who often has many females accompanying him with their offspring.

These monkeys are suffering greatly due to the hands of humans, particularly in Ghana where 800 tons of bush meat is sold every year, ap art of which is Roloway monkey meat.

  • Weight: 4.7 – 7 kilograms (8.8 – 15 pounds)
  • Diet: They consume insects, supplementing this diet with various seeds, leaves as well as pulp of mature fruits.
  • Geographical location: Ghana
  • Why are these animals endangered: This species is threatened by hunting and habitat degradation and loss.
  • View this African animal on IUCN

What can I do to help the Roloway monkey?

  • West African Primate Conservation Action (WAPCA) is an organization dedicated to the protection of mangabey and roloway monkeys. The organization focuses on educational programs that promote forest conservation. You can support their efforts over here.

African Elephant

How many left: 415 000

endangered animals in africa

Elephants eat practically any vegetable matter, amounting to about 250 kilograms (550 pounds) a day. Oh and they drink alot too, a casual 150 to 250 liters a day.

Another important factor, is that elephants among many of the endangered animals in Africa are keystone species. I wrote an extensive article on what a keystone species is here.

Although the African elephant population still seems abundant, you must remember that within a one decade their numbers have declined by 111 000.

A staggering 55 elephants are killed everyday, simply for their tusks (ivory) which are sold in countries like Vietnam and China.

  • Weight: 6000 kilograms (13 227 pounds)
  • Diet: They consume any vegetable matter.
  • Geographical location: Much of central Africa.
  • Why are these animals endangered: Elephants are being hunted to extinction simply for their tusks, which are then sold on the black market in Vietnam and China. There they become ornaments in the form of ivory which fetches a high price.
  • View this African animal on IUCN

What can I do to help the African Elephant?

  • First and foremost i’d suggest you inform yourself of the situation (as with all conservation matters) a good documentary I can recommend, which sheds a bright light on the elephants plight is The Ivory Game on Netflix. View the trailer here.
  • You can also support by donating to organizations like Save The Elephants.

Black Rhino

How many are left: 5000

Black African Rhino - critically endangered

Black Rhinos browse the african plains in search of shrubbery. They actually use their lips to pluck little roots and plants from the ground.

They have terrible eyesight but make up for this by extremely good hearing (Daredevil where you at).

Believe it or not, even though these magnificent African animals have such thick skin, they can still be sunburnt!

Sadly much like the African elephant, black rhinos are being poached to extinction for their horns. These horns are then used as both ornaments and for medicinal purposes.

Also read: What is the goal of wildlife conservation

  • Weight: 800 – 1400 kilograms (1763 – 3086 pounds)
  • Diet: Trees, bushes, plants and roots.
  • Geographical location: Much of sub saharan Africa and central Africa.
  • Why are these animals endangered: Rhinos are being poached for their horns which are believed to hold medicinal properties such as being an aphrodisiac. According to Rhinos.org approximately one rhino is killed every 10 hours.
  • View this African animal on IUCN

What can I do to help the Black Rhino?

  • This one’s obvious, but don’t EVER buy rhino products and inform everyone you know to do the same.
  • Donate to WWF to support their work in Africa and Asia.
  • Avoid the use of palm oil products (Doritos chips you are not fooling anyone!).

Eastern Lowland Gorilla

How many left: unknown (estimated around 5000)

Eastern lowland Gorilla

These beautiful animals are distinguished from their gorilla cousins by their stocky bodies, large hands and short muzzles.

Believe it or not but eastern lowland gorillas (like all gorillas) are completely vegan, subsisting purely on a plant based diet, such as fruit and other herbaceous materials.

Read also: 21 benefits of being vegan

Both the eastern lowland gorillas and mountain gorillas have been under threat of severe poaching. This is mainly due to the many years of civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In recent times it has been nearly impossible to get an accurate reading on population numbers due to all the violence experienced in the region.

Scientists estimate that the population has declined by up to 50% since the 1990’s.

  • Weight: Up to 199 kilograms (440 pounds)
  • Diet: They eat pretty much every part of the plant, including roots, leaves, fruit, stems, flowers, bark, and even mushrooms.
  • Geographical location: Congo basin
  • Why are these animals endangered: Illegal mining for tin, gold, diamond and, especially, coltan (an alloy used in your cell phones) has caused this gorilla to lose the majority of its habitat. This illegal mining has also caused lots of civil unrest in the region. Humans have even been able to infiltrate parks like Kahuzi-Biega National Park to hunt gorillas and to set up illegal mines.

What can I do to help the Eastern Lowland Gorilla?

  • To begin with, look into recycling your mobile phone instead of throwing it away. This way the valuable mineral that’s inside, can be reused instead of having to be mined once more.
  • Adopt a gorilla through WWF

African Penguin

How many left: 21 000 breeding pairs

Endangered animals in Africa

African penguins are covered in dense waterproof feathers They are white on the stomach and black on the back. This color variation acts as a camouflage, their white belly blends in with the light so predators l from below stru

When you think penguins you probably think ice and cold weather. However, these cheerful African penguins also known as jackass penguins have adapted to the cooler climes of Southern Africa.

Today there are fewer than 21 000 breeding pairs. In comparison, just 100 years ago there were single colonies that had up to one million individuals.

Penguin numbers are declining rapidly today, joining the sad ranks of endangered animals in Africa. It is believed that they will be extinct within 10 years.

  • Weight: 3.1 kilograms (6.8 pounds)
  • Diet: Small fish like anchovies and sardines as well as squid and shellfish.
  • Geographical location: South Africa and Namibia
  • Why are these animals endangered: These animals are endangered mainly due to overfishing. Essentially we humans are consuming all the food that penguins usually eat.

What can I do to help the African Penguin?

  • You can support SANCCOB or the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) – amazing organisations that do great work to save our wild penguins.
  • Here are a couple of things you can do at home to help save African penguins (these tips apply to all the endangered animals in Africa).
    • Separate household garbage for easy recycling
    • Buy local rather than carbon-heavy imported goods
    • Become vegan or reduce the amount of meat you eat.
    • Never litter and if you see any make sure to pick it up.

Ethiopian Wolf

How many left: less than 500

Ethiopian wolf

Not only one of the most endangered animals in Africa, the Ethiopian wolf is the most endangered canid in the world.

They are closely related to grey wolves and coyotes, sort of a mixture of both by appearance.

These animals live in close knit packs sometimes amounting to 18 individuals. The packs are highly hierarchical.

These wolves are largely threatened by loss of habitat due to high altitude subsistence agriculture and overgrazing by domestic livestock. 

Most recently they have also been threatened by lethal diseases carried by domestic dogs, such as rabies and canine distemper.

  • Weight: 14 kilograms (31 pounds)
  • Diet: Small rodents, like the like the giant mole rat and grass rats. Sometimes they also hunt hyraxes and antelope calves.
  • Geographical location: Ethiopia
  • Why are these animals endangered: These animals are mainly endangered due to loss of habitat, conflict with farmers and disease carried by domestic dogs.
  • View this African animal on IUCN.

What can I do to help the Ethiopian Wolf?

  • Support the EWCP, their mission is to secure viable and ecologically functioning Ethiopian wolf populations and habitats. Read more here.

Giant Ground Pangolin

How many left: N/A

endangered animals in Africa

Pangolins are solitary animals, active mainly at night.

They are covered in large scales made out of keratin (the same stuff your nails and hair are made out of).

Though they look similar to anteaters and armadillos, pangolins are (interestingly) more closely related to bears, cats, and dogs!

Up to 200 000 pangolins are estimated to be taken out of the wild in Africa and Asia every year, making them the most trafficked non-human mammal in the world.

Hundreds of thousands of pangolins are poached and killed every year for their scales which are used in traditional chinese medicine.

For many years, Asian pangolins were the number one target of poachers. But now that their numbers have been depleted, smugglers have turned to the African continent to continue their illegal trade.

  • Weight: 12 kilograms (26 pounds)
  • Diet: Ant and termite species, sometimes their larvae too.
  • Geographical location: West and central Africa.
  • Why are these animals endangered:
  • View this African animal on IUCN.

What can I do to help the Pangolin?


Addax

How many left: 30 – 90 (just 3 remained in the wild in 2016)

endangered animals in Africa - Addax

The Addax may be one of the most endangered animals in Africa, and were on the brink of extinction in 2016.

They are perfectly equipped for the extreme conditions found in the desert.

You will find them roaming in large nomadic herds, with between 5 to 20 individuals.

Even though the Addax are not nocturnal, you’ll find them sleeping throughout hottest parts of the day and foraging at night time.

  • Weight: 94 kilograms (207 pounds)
  • Diet: Grasses and leaves of any available shrubs.
  • Geographical location: Chad and Niger
  • Why are these animals endangered: Regional insecurity, oil industry activities and uncontrolled hunting over many years, (activities which have accelerated due to the introduction of motor vehicles and modern weapons) have pushed the Addax to the brink of extinction.
  • View this African animal on IUCN.

What can I do to help the Addax?

  • Support the SCF who has been collaborating for years with other organizations, governments, and various stakeholders, to preserve the addax.

African Wild Ass

How many left: 23 – 200 (IUCN)

The African wild ass are high sociable animals living in herds of up to 50 individuals.

These animals can survive water loss of as much as 30% of its body weight and restore this huge loss within only 2 – 5 minutes.

They communicate with one another by a unique set of vocalizations (which can be heard up to 1.9 miles away), visual signals, smells and physical contact.

  • Weight: 230 – 275 kilograms (507 – 595 pounds)
  • Diet: Grasses, supplementing this diet occasionally with herbs
  • Geographical location: Eritrea, Ethiopia
  • Why are these animals endangered: The main threat facing the African wild ass is hunting (for food and medicinal purposes). Secondanly African wild ass constantly have to compete with livestock for limited water resources.
  • View this African animal on IUCN.

What can I do to help the African wild ass?

  • Support organizations like SOS, they act to conserve the African Wild Ass by mitigating competition with livestock and increasing community awareness about these endangered wild equids.

Cape Seahorse

How many left: N/A

Cape seahorses (also known as Knysna seahorses) are probably one of the smallest endangered animals in Africa, growing up to a mere 12 centimetres (5 inches) in size.

They come in a multitude of different colors ranging from green to brown and purplish black. Interestingly, their colors seem to change to some extent with mood.

These animals are only found in three brackish water estuarine environments, the Keurbooms and Swartvlei estuaries and the Knysna Lagoon.

The Cape seahorse is mainly threatened due to limited habitat distribution coupled with the sheer amounts pollution in our oceans.

  • Weight: N/A
  • Diet: Small crustaceans found in the sea grass which they suck up through their snout.
  • Geographical location: South Africa
  • Why are these animals endangered: Urban expansion/pollution threaten this seahorse the most. Development surrounding the estuary is known to litter trace metals, hydrocarbons, pesticides and organic wastes into the estuary.  
  • View this African animal on IUCN.

What can I do to help the Cape seahorse?

  • Look after your litter – Organize or participate in a beach or underwater clean up
  • Participate in citizen science projects
  • Support local water quality initiatives
  • Be a responsible and conscientious recreational fisher
  • Volunteer in your community

Chimpanzee

How many left: 170,000-300,000 chimpanzees left in Africa.

chimpanzee endangered animal in africa

Like us humans, chimps are extremely social animals, they look after their offspring for many years and can live to be over 50 years.

Infact, chimpanzees are our closest animal cousin, we share about 98% of their genes!

The majority of a chimps day is spent high up in the treetops.

When they do come down to land, they walk around on all fours, although they can walk upright like a human for miles.

Chimps are extremely intelligent animals, using sticks as tools to fish termites out of mounds.

They even bunch up leaves to sop up drinking water.

  • Weight: 30 – 60 kilograms (66 – 132 pounds)
  • Diet: Fruit and leaves, but also eat insects, bark, eggs, nuts, and even hunt monkeys and other small animals for meat.
  • Geographical location: Much of central Africa
  • Why are these animals endangered: The main threat facing the chimpanzee is habitat destruction and illegal poaching. In recent years poaching has become commercialized to satisfy the appetites of wealthy urban residents.
  • View this African animal on IUCN.

What can I do to help the Chimpanzee?


Verreaux’s Sifaka

How many left: no estimate is available

Verreaux's Sifaka

Verreaux’s sifakas are native and endemic exclusively to Madagascar.

They live in a social hierarchy system, dominated by females. Their groups are usually made up of 2 – 13 individuals.

Members of the group live in peace for the majority of the time and don’t tend to show aggressive behavior, except for in mating season.

Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of this unique animal, is it’s unusual way of walking. They tend to jump sideways whilst holding their arms up high.

  • Weight: 3.4 – 3.6 kilograms (7.4 – 8 pounds)
  • Diet: Leaves, bark, and flowers, they occasionally supplement this diet with fruit and nuts.
  • Geographical location: Madagascar
  • Why are these animals endangered: Deforestation, poaching and drought have been the main threats facing this unique animal. Lately parasite or tick-borne disease have also affected the Verreaux’s sifakas, with a massive die-off in 2018.
  • View this African animal on IUCN.

What can I do to help the Verreaux’s Sifaka?

  • Donate to conservation organizations and research groups working in Madagascar.
  • Volunteer in Madagascar or from home.
  • Spread the word about lemur conservation on social media.

Lion

How many left: 121-374,218

endangered animals in Africa

Lions are the only cats in the world to live in groups (known as prides).

These groups can consist of up to 30 individuals, depending on how much food and water are available.

Female lions are the main hunters, they do this while the males protect the pride’s territory and young.

Unbelievably a lion’s roar can be heard up to 8 kilometres away.

African lions in the wild are becoming more and more scarce. Infact their numbers have dropped by 30 percent in the last 10 years.

Their main threat in the wild is unorganized trophy hunting and habitat loss.

  • Weight: 130 – 190 kilograms (286 – 418 pounds)
  • Diet: Their prey includes antelopes, buffaloes, zebras, young elephants, rhinos, hippos, wild hogs, crocodiles and giraffes. But they also sometimes eat smaller prey like mice, birds, hares, lizards, and tortoises.
  • Geographical location: Much of Africa
  • Why are these animals endangered: The main drivers of lion decline are large scale habitat loss and destruction, prey base depletion through unsustainable hunting and revenge killing due to due to perceived or real human-lion conflict.
  • View this African animal on IUCN.

What can I do to help the African lion?

  • Educate your family and friends on conservation. A great program doing this is the Big Cat Initiative by National Geographic.
  • Do not support lions who are exploited for profit in the cub petting and canned hunting industry.
  • Support Vier Pfoten out of Austria a organization who frequently steps in and fights the red tape and political system to rescue lions from hell hole zoos.

Further reading:

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